Major blaze at 800-year-old St Peter's Church in Ropley

Daily Echo: This photo was taken by Hampshire Fire and Rescue as their crews battle to save the church. This photo was taken by Hampshire Fire and Rescue as their crews battle to save the church.

Firefighters are battling to salvage what they can of a medieval church after a fire ripped through it this morning.

Up to 80 firefighters are tackling the blaze at the 800-year-old church in Ropley.

Daily Echo: St Peter's Church by Echo reader Alan Thomas.

Villagers watched in horror as the historic St Peter’s Church near Winchester, went up in flame

The church caught fire hours after people living nearby experienced power surges.

Villagers have been gathering at the church grounds to offer what help they can.

Karen Bunce got married in 2006 and lived in the village for 19 years. She said: “It is devastating the centre of the village is burning down."

Her cousin Darren was due to marry his fiancee Alicia Hardy at the church on Saturday.

Twelve fire engines and up to 80 crew have spent this morning tackling the blaze, which destroyed the roof of the historic building.

Daily Echo:

At the height of the fire black smoke could be seen as far away as the A31 Alresford bypass.

Royston Such, who has been the vicar of St Peters for 24 years, stood in the sidelines as the fire ball was put out.

He said: "It's absolutely devastating. The building has so many memories attached to it, we have a book called 'A Years Mind' which we use to commemorate people who have died in the village.

"We are due to have a wedding here the day after tomorrow.

"It's not just my church, it's every bodies church. It hasn't sunk in, and it doesn't feel real. It's utterly catastrophic."

One resident, who asked not to be named, said: “It’s terrible. I looked out of my window at 11.45pm yesterday and didn’t see anything but could smell faint smoke.

"My internet and electricity kept surging last night.”

Terry Neilson, of Vicarage Lane, added: “I came up to get a paper this morning and saw smoke so wandered down out of curiosity and saw this.

“The church has been at the heart of the village for 800 years. Hopefully the stone will be saved.”

Daily Echo: Vicar of St Peter's Church, Royston Such.

Locals gathered to watch as firefighters attempted to put out the blaze, which destroyed the roof. The clock is still working.

A tea and coffee station has been set up by villagers for the emergency services. Sections of the roof continue to crumble and fall into the remains of the church.

A welfare station for firefighters has also been set up in the church grounds.

An investigation is under way into what caused the blaze.

Comments (17)

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11:15am Thu 19 Jun 14

Oliverm says...

dango wrote:
Typical, less punters so it 'accidentally' catches fire. You can bet a Tesco express or a McDonalds drive-through will open up there in the next fortnight.
Don't judge by your own standards. A sad day in history. I hope the church bounces back.
[quote][p][bold]dango[/bold] wrote: Typical, less punters so it 'accidentally' catches fire. You can bet a Tesco express or a McDonalds drive-through will open up there in the next fortnight.[/p][/quote]Don't judge by your own standards. A sad day in history. I hope the church bounces back. Oliverm
  • Score: 61

11:43am Thu 19 Jun 14

saintsfan76 says...

Many years ago (1968 to be precise) Holy Rood Church in Stubbington caught fire. Much the same scenario concerning the roof although the church was not so old. It was modernised but was never the same afterwards. Churches in villages have so much rich history. They literally were built at the centre of the village to be the focus and meeting point of all that happened within. Very sad that today Ropley has lost a piece of its history. It will be rebuilt but it will and can never be quite the same building again. Here's hoping that a lot of its precious artefacts can be saved. .
Many years ago (1968 to be precise) Holy Rood Church in Stubbington caught fire. Much the same scenario concerning the roof although the church was not so old. It was modernised but was never the same afterwards. Churches in villages have so much rich history. They literally were built at the centre of the village to be the focus and meeting point of all that happened within. Very sad that today Ropley has lost a piece of its history. It will be rebuilt but it will and can never be quite the same building again. Here's hoping that a lot of its precious artefacts can be saved. . saintsfan76
  • Score: 32

11:51am Thu 19 Jun 14

Ellwood says...

dango wrote:
Typical, less punters so it 'accidentally' catches fire. You can bet a Tesco express or a McDonalds drive-through will open up there in the next fortnight.
..................wa
sn't there enough drama in the report, that you had to add your own dango?
Hopefully the roof can be rebuilt and the Church can be saved.....goodness knows communities need a focal point more than ever these days.
[quote][p][bold]dango[/bold] wrote: Typical, less punters so it 'accidentally' catches fire. You can bet a Tesco express or a McDonalds drive-through will open up there in the next fortnight.[/p][/quote]..................wa sn't there enough drama in the report, that you had to add your own dango? Hopefully the roof can be rebuilt and the Church can be saved.....goodness knows communities need a focal point more than ever these days. Ellwood
  • Score: 27

12:02pm Thu 19 Jun 14

Quentin Heslop says...

Act of God.
Act of God. Quentin Heslop
  • Score: -21

12:38pm Thu 19 Jun 14

The Wickham Man says...

A tragedy or just An act of God? People who believe in him must assume he knew it was going to happen so either caused it for his own amusement or at best sat back and enjoyed the spectacle, watching people running round like ants trying to save the beautiful old building. You have to look around the world and conclude that even if he did exist this God isn't a very nice person. The bewildered and stunned congregation should think again about who if anyone is listening to their prayers and exactly what notice he takes of them, though I expect everyone will be giving thanks to him that nobody was killed. Truly bizarre.
A tragedy or just An act of God? People who believe in him must assume he knew it was going to happen so either caused it for his own amusement or at best sat back and enjoyed the spectacle, watching people running round like ants trying to save the beautiful old building. You have to look around the world and conclude that even if he did exist this God isn't a very nice person. The bewildered and stunned congregation should think again about who if anyone is listening to their prayers and exactly what notice he takes of them, though I expect everyone will be giving thanks to him that nobody was killed. Truly bizarre. The Wickham Man
  • Score: -22

1:50pm Thu 19 Jun 14

Paramjit Bahia says...

The Wickham Man wrote:
A tragedy or just An act of God? People who believe in him must assume he knew it was going to happen so either caused it for his own amusement or at best sat back and enjoyed the spectacle, watching people running round like ants trying to save the beautiful old building. You have to look around the world and conclude that even if he did exist this God isn't a very nice person. The bewildered and stunned congregation should think again about who if anyone is listening to their prayers and exactly what notice he takes of them, though I expect everyone will be giving thanks to him that nobody was killed. Truly bizarre.
How can you be so sure that the God is a male and not some mythical female?
Apart from that your comment is good, may upset members of the God Brigade, but will they post some logical responses?
Hope local historical landmark can be restored.
[quote][p][bold]The Wickham Man[/bold] wrote: A tragedy or just An act of God? People who believe in him must assume he knew it was going to happen so either caused it for his own amusement or at best sat back and enjoyed the spectacle, watching people running round like ants trying to save the beautiful old building. You have to look around the world and conclude that even if he did exist this God isn't a very nice person. The bewildered and stunned congregation should think again about who if anyone is listening to their prayers and exactly what notice he takes of them, though I expect everyone will be giving thanks to him that nobody was killed. Truly bizarre.[/p][/quote]How can you be so sure that the God is a male and not some mythical female? Apart from that your comment is good, may upset members of the God Brigade, but will they post some logical responses? Hope local historical landmark can be restored. Paramjit Bahia
  • Score: -8

2:45pm Thu 19 Jun 14

mollie says...

The response is simple ...God could not be everywhere so he made man ...and you were where ?

The church is a building , the spirit and sanctity is the people .
The response is simple ...God could not be everywhere so he made man ...and you were where ? The church is a building , the spirit and sanctity is the people . mollie
  • Score: -1

4:23pm Thu 19 Jun 14

sotonboy84 says...

Paramjit Bahia wrote:
The Wickham Man wrote:
A tragedy or just An act of God? People who believe in him must assume he knew it was going to happen so either caused it for his own amusement or at best sat back and enjoyed the spectacle, watching people running round like ants trying to save the beautiful old building. You have to look around the world and conclude that even if he did exist this God isn't a very nice person. The bewildered and stunned congregation should think again about who if anyone is listening to their prayers and exactly what notice he takes of them, though I expect everyone will be giving thanks to him that nobody was killed. Truly bizarre.
How can you be so sure that the God is a male and not some mythical female?
Apart from that your comment is good, may upset members of the God Brigade, but will they post some logical responses?
Hope local historical landmark can be restored.
What a contradictory comment.

You refer to people as the "God Brigade" which is insulting but you hope the "historical landmark" building they pray in can be restored.

I don't believe in God or any religion but I have respect for those that believe in something.
[quote][p][bold]Paramjit Bahia[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]The Wickham Man[/bold] wrote: A tragedy or just An act of God? People who believe in him must assume he knew it was going to happen so either caused it for his own amusement or at best sat back and enjoyed the spectacle, watching people running round like ants trying to save the beautiful old building. You have to look around the world and conclude that even if he did exist this God isn't a very nice person. The bewildered and stunned congregation should think again about who if anyone is listening to their prayers and exactly what notice he takes of them, though I expect everyone will be giving thanks to him that nobody was killed. Truly bizarre.[/p][/quote]How can you be so sure that the God is a male and not some mythical female? Apart from that your comment is good, may upset members of the God Brigade, but will they post some logical responses? Hope local historical landmark can be restored.[/p][/quote]What a contradictory comment. You refer to people as the "God Brigade" which is insulting but you hope the "historical landmark" building they pray in can be restored. I don't believe in God or any religion but I have respect for those that believe in something. sotonboy84
  • Score: 14

5:19pm Thu 19 Jun 14

*ay*carumba* says...

The Wickham Man wrote:
A tragedy or just An act of God? People who believe in him must assume he knew it was going to happen so either caused it for his own amusement or at best sat back and enjoyed the spectacle, watching people running round like ants trying to save the beautiful old building. You have to look around the world and conclude that even if he did exist this God isn't a very nice person. The bewildered and stunned congregation should think again about who if anyone is listening to their prayers and exactly what notice he takes of them, though I expect everyone will be giving thanks to him that nobody was killed. Truly bizarre.
When Homer's house caught fire in The Simpsons:

"Homer: No, don't tell me. I'll get it. Oh, I know. The Lord is vengeful. Oh, spiteful one, show me who to smite and they shall be smoten.

Flanders: Ha, Homer, God didn't set your house on fire.

Reverend Lovejoy: No, but he was working in the hearts of your friends and neighbors when they went to your aid, be they Christian, Jew or… miscellaneous.

Apu: Hindu. There are 700 million of us.

Reverend Lovejoy: Aw, that's super."

Something to think about?
[quote][p][bold]The Wickham Man[/bold] wrote: A tragedy or just An act of God? People who believe in him must assume he knew it was going to happen so either caused it for his own amusement or at best sat back and enjoyed the spectacle, watching people running round like ants trying to save the beautiful old building. You have to look around the world and conclude that even if he did exist this God isn't a very nice person. The bewildered and stunned congregation should think again about who if anyone is listening to their prayers and exactly what notice he takes of them, though I expect everyone will be giving thanks to him that nobody was killed. Truly bizarre.[/p][/quote]When Homer's house caught fire in The Simpsons: "Homer: No, don't tell me. I'll get it. Oh, I know. The Lord is vengeful. Oh, spiteful one, show me who to smite and they shall be smoten. Flanders: Ha, Homer, God didn't set your house on fire. Reverend Lovejoy: No, but he was working in the hearts of your friends and neighbors when they went to your aid, be they Christian, Jew or… miscellaneous. Apu: Hindu. There are 700 million of us. Reverend Lovejoy: Aw, that's super." Something to think about? *ay*carumba*
  • Score: -3

6:18pm Thu 19 Jun 14

Bahoyta says...

I am so very saddened receiving news about the beautiful and historical Ropley Church. I lived directly across the street at Townstreet Farmhouse in the early 80's and loved this church. The late Jim Longlands painted a beautiful watercolor portrait for me which I will always treasure. It is my hope that this beautiful and meaningful landmark will be restored as quickly as possible and as close to it's original state for it's members, Vicar and those in the village and others whom it provides special meaning and beautiful memories.
I am so very saddened receiving news about the beautiful and historical Ropley Church. I lived directly across the street at Townstreet Farmhouse in the early 80's and loved this church. The late Jim Longlands painted a beautiful watercolor portrait for me which I will always treasure. It is my hope that this beautiful and meaningful landmark will be restored as quickly as possible and as close to it's original state for it's members, Vicar and those in the village and others whom it provides special meaning and beautiful memories. Bahoyta
  • Score: 9

6:30pm Thu 19 Jun 14

solomum says...

The Wickham Man wrote:
A tragedy or just An act of God? People who believe in him must assume he knew it was going to happen so either caused it for his own amusement or at best sat back and enjoyed the spectacle, watching people running round like ants trying to save the beautiful old building. You have to look around the world and conclude that even if he did exist this God isn't a very nice person. The bewildered and stunned congregation should think again about who if anyone is listening to their prayers and exactly what notice he takes of them, though I expect everyone will be giving thanks to him that nobody was killed. Truly bizarre.
Shows how little you know about God.
[quote][p][bold]The Wickham Man[/bold] wrote: A tragedy or just An act of God? People who believe in him must assume he knew it was going to happen so either caused it for his own amusement or at best sat back and enjoyed the spectacle, watching people running round like ants trying to save the beautiful old building. You have to look around the world and conclude that even if he did exist this God isn't a very nice person. The bewildered and stunned congregation should think again about who if anyone is listening to their prayers and exactly what notice he takes of them, though I expect everyone will be giving thanks to him that nobody was killed. Truly bizarre.[/p][/quote]Shows how little you know about God. solomum
  • Score: 0

6:39pm Thu 19 Jun 14

Balsamic says...

Holy smoke.
Holy smoke. Balsamic
  • Score: 3

6:46pm Thu 19 Jun 14

Balsamic says...

I here all week
I here all week Balsamic
  • Score: 1

7:15pm Thu 19 Jun 14

eurogordi says...

God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform ... and it is certainly not for for mere mortals to question His ways.

Historically this is a sad loss to the village of Ropley, but the true church is not built of stone and wood, bricks and mortar but those people who carry out God's work on earth without reward but who are often ridiculed. And yet, we would be a poorer country socially without such people..

I feel for the couple due to marry this Saturday, but I would encourage them to continue with the wedding in the grounds of Ropley Church. The weather looks good and an open air wedding would be symbol of the future rebuilding that I am sure will happen.

I hope this can be arranged and that Health & Safety Officers do not get in the way of such a happening. After all, when Southampton's Holy Rood was destroyed by enemy action in WW2, a wedding still went ahead in the charred remains.
God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform ... and it is certainly not for for mere mortals to question His ways. Historically this is a sad loss to the village of Ropley, but the true church is not built of stone and wood, bricks and mortar but those people who carry out God's work on earth without reward but who are often ridiculed. And yet, we would be a poorer country socially without such people.. I feel for the couple due to marry this Saturday, but I would encourage them to continue with the wedding in the grounds of Ropley Church. The weather looks good and an open air wedding would be symbol of the future rebuilding that I am sure will happen. I hope this can be arranged and that Health & Safety Officers do not get in the way of such a happening. After all, when Southampton's Holy Rood was destroyed by enemy action in WW2, a wedding still went ahead in the charred remains. eurogordi
  • Score: 3

9:14pm Thu 19 Jun 14

Stubs says...

Anyone got a light!
Anyone got a light! Stubs
  • Score: -4

11:02pm Thu 19 Jun 14

lushlou says...

Sounds like an electrical fault to me cause by the power surge. So sad thoughts are with the villagers and the couple who are due to be wed .
Sounds like an electrical fault to me cause by the power surge. So sad thoughts are with the villagers and the couple who are due to be wed . lushlou
  • Score: 2

9:36am Fri 20 Jun 14

dango says...

solomum wrote:
The Wickham Man wrote:
A tragedy or just An act of God? People who believe in him must assume he knew it was going to happen so either caused it for his own amusement or at best sat back and enjoyed the spectacle, watching people running round like ants trying to save the beautiful old building. You have to look around the world and conclude that even if he did exist this God isn't a very nice person. The bewildered and stunned congregation should think again about who if anyone is listening to their prayers and exactly what notice he takes of them, though I expect everyone will be giving thanks to him that nobody was killed. Truly bizarre.
Shows how little you know about God.
There is no God.

And you lot have no sense of humour. :D
[quote][p][bold]solomum[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]The Wickham Man[/bold] wrote: A tragedy or just An act of God? People who believe in him must assume he knew it was going to happen so either caused it for his own amusement or at best sat back and enjoyed the spectacle, watching people running round like ants trying to save the beautiful old building. You have to look around the world and conclude that even if he did exist this God isn't a very nice person. The bewildered and stunned congregation should think again about who if anyone is listening to their prayers and exactly what notice he takes of them, though I expect everyone will be giving thanks to him that nobody was killed. Truly bizarre.[/p][/quote]Shows how little you know about God.[/p][/quote]There is no God. And you lot have no sense of humour. :D dango
  • Score: -2

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